How Long Do Deer Live? [Facts & Age Calculator]

Are you a passionate deer hunter? Do you want to increase your knowledge about the animal you love to hunt? How can you go too far without knowing much about the life expectancy of your favorite animal?

Have you ever thought about the maximum age limit of deer? If not, stay with us until the end.

Here we’ve gathered complete information on deer lifespan both in captivity and wild.

So, read on how long do deer live at first? The average lifespan of deer in the wild is 4 to 5 years. In hunting restricted areas, they can live from 13 to 18 years. In captivity, their average life is 15 to 20 years. Factors that can influence deer lifetime are hunting, habitat, predation, automobile collision, and diseases.

Deer being hoofed mammals, belong to the family Cervidae, they are herbivorous ruminants. They play an important role in religion, mythology, history, and literature. Since the Middle Ages, deer hunting has been a popular activity. Its meat is used as venison while skin is used as buckskin(clothing). Moreover, Its antlers have much economic importance as they are used to make knife handles. So, thanks to Mr. Deer for proving such a useful animal.

The Average Lifespan Of Deer Naturally

The lifetime of the deer in the wild depends mainly on variable factors like hunting pressure, disease, vehicle collisions, and predation within the habitat. 

In the areas where hunting is strictly restricted, its average lifespan is around 13 to 18 years. In the areas where they are classified as game animals, they can live for about 6 to 12 years under favorable conditions. While in the wild, the maximum age of this mammal is 4 to 5 years. 

However, the life span of different species of deer is different lifespan.

Table of LifeSpan Of Different Species of Deer

Species of Deer nameAverage LifeSpan
Elk10-13 years
Roe deer10years
Red Deer10-13years
Sambar Deer20-26years
Muntjac Deer13-16years (males)Less than 20years
White tail deer6-14years

Common Factors Affecting Deer Age In Wild

In fact, the age of deer is different in captivity as compared to the wild. You may be surprised to know that there is also a factor of female empowerment in wild animals as doe lives longer than a buck. It’s important to know which factors highly influence life duration in the wild.

Here is the complete description of factors:


One of the most factors influencing deer lifespan in the wild is the habitat. As we know that  Texas is the home for most of the whitetails than any other US state. Here, the estimated deer population is over four million with a large number of older bucks. The reason is that this mammal mostly prefers edging forests and roadways, even the newly planted lawns, also the less predation in this area causes them to flourish and live longer.

 Due to the increased human population, cougars, grizzlies, and wolves have become extinct, providing favorable habitat for this animal to live longer.

Natural Disasters

In the areas of natural disasters like floods, fires, harsh weather like extreme cold or hot, the average age duration is lower as compared to that with milder climates.

Similarly, deer populations are also low in areas or disasters. Mostly fawns die early in harsh weather, while the older deer hardly live up to 2 or 3 years.


Obviously, in the deer rich populated regions of the US, where hunting is allowed, 37% of the bucks hardly reach the age of 1.5 years. While in the areas where hunting is strictly restricted, on average they can live up to 10 years.

The Kips Adams of QDMA(Quality Deer Management Association) has revealed that a study of about 10,000 harvested deer teeth samples showed that most of them were older than 10 years while at least only one of them reached the age of 17.


Predation is also one of the most influencing factors in the age of wild deer. Usually, Fawns are more susceptible to predation while older deer become prey to humans.

 In coyote rich areas, fawns hardly reach the age of 3 months and die due to predation, however, if the deer reaches the age of 1 and a half years, the death is mainly caused by humans.

Vehicle Collisions

According to data collected by the editor of Animal people newspaper, Merritt Clifton, nearly 350,000 are killed annually by motor vehicles in the US. 

According to an analysis by the state, you are most likely to hit a deer if you are traveling through West Virginia.

However, it doesn’t much affect the whole population but affects the lifetime of wild deer as they die as a result of the accident.


Wild Deer, being social animals, tend to live in the herds, therefore mostly affected by diseases.

The most common diseases that are proved to be very fatal are:

  • Chronic Wasting disease(CWD)
  • Epizootic Haemorrhagic disease(EHD)
  • Blue Tongue virus
  • Mange or hair loss syndrome

All of these diseases are contagious and can affect the whole herd thereby affecting the age as a whole.

How Long Do Deer Live in Captivity

It’s inhumane to keep the wild animals in captivity, though it increases the lifespan. Normally, the age of the deer in bondage ranges from 15 to 20 years, if good protection and nutrition are available. However, here the captivity is meant for keeping these mammals in farms and zoos.

 The deer farms mainly consist of a large area where all the basic needs of deer are fulfilled. In the case of the outbreak of disease, farm deers can be well treated as compared to the wild, where a large number of this animal die when they are exposed to the disease.

 According to Jim Heffelfinger, the author of “Deer of the southwest”, those living in captivity with good nutrition and safety, mainly live 15 to 20 years.

Zoo provides us the opportunity to communicate closely and see the behavior of the wild animals. However, if deer are kept at a very early age in the zoo, they can easily adjust to this environment and the lifespan is also larger as compared to the older one. Sometimes older buck completely refuses to eat and eventually dies. You will be surprised to know that at the New York Zoological Park USA, the age of a female sambar Rusa unicolor was 26 years 5 months 6 days at the time of death.

How Long Do Whitetail Deer Live

On average, the age of whitetail buck is 2.9 years in the wild, however, wild doe lives for about 6and a half years. 

The author of the book “Deer of the Southwest”, James Heffelfinger, has revealed that it’s very rare if a wild deer lives past 15 years. 

how long do deer live in the wild

Even in the unhaunted herds, they rarely reach the age of 15. If they survive every risky factor, eventually the aging would make it die as the body conditions and the teeth are worn out at this age. Well, captive whitetail can live for about 6 to 14 years.

How Long Do Blacktail Deer Live

The blacktail, occupying coastal woodlands in the Pacific Northwest of North America, is considered as the subspecies of mule deer. 

According to the research, the average lifespan of a male blacktail is 8 years and a female blacktail is 16 years. However, the age of the oldest female blacktail wild deer on the record was 20 years. The blacktails  are frequently involved in highway-related accidents.

How Long Do Mule Deer Live

Mule deer inhabits the western part of the US and Canada. Generally, the lifetime of mule deer is 10 years in the wild, as compared to other species of deer.

Interestingly, it runs at a speed of 45 miles per hour. Perhaps, it’s the speed of this animal that helps in saving it from predators, otherwise, its body structure is not designed for fighting. 

The founder of QDMA, Joe Hamilton has recorded the oldest captive deer(doe) on the Kerr Wildlife management area Texas with the age of  23 to 24 years.

Related Articles: What is a baby deer called?

How Long Do Red Deer Live

Red deer is one of the largest species of deer inhabiting Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, Newzealand, USA, UK, Canada, Peru, Uruguay, Chilli, and Argentina. 

The average life duration of the red deer in the wild is 10 to 13 years. However, it depends highly on the hunting and predation in that habitat. 

In the areas with fewer coyotes, wolves, and bears, predation pressure is low, so they can survive up to 15 years. According to the Guinness World record, In Wisconsin Milwaukee Zoo USA, a red deer reached the age of 26 years and 8 months, though it was not the oldest one.

What is The Age of Oldest Deer on Record

Most of us are keen on reading about world records. So stay with us as we are sharing an interesting world record with you. According to the Guinness World record book, the World’s oldest deer on the record was Bambi with the age of 31 years 226 days.

It was a Scottish red deer (Cervus elaphus) kept and looked after by a Fraser family from Kiltarlity in Beauty, Highland, UK. The date of birth of Bambi was 8 June 1963 and he died on 20 January 1995. Isn’t it unbelievable? Of course, it is. Enjoy this cool video of the extinct Bambi deer born in the world’s oldest zoo.


Hopefully, you have enjoyed this interesting information regarding deer age, Also  You might be surprised to know the world records of the oldest one. 

Don’t forget to share this knowledge with other hunters and deer lovers and share in the comments below what was the age of the oldest buck or doe you ever hunted? 

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